The Green Line in Cyprus

The Coup

On the morning of the 15th July 1974 there was a coup against President Makarios perpetrated by the Greek Junta in Athens involving ELDYK forces, elements of the National Guard and EOKA-B members/sympathisers.
In addition to overthrowing the President, the coup followed the traditional path of taking over the state broadcasting studios (CyBC), telecommunications (CYTA), major police stations, important road intersections and the international airport.



Nicos Sampson (in the checked shirt) and the staff of his newspaper greet the tanks as they head for the Presidential Palace and a coupist tank outside the Lycavitos police station



Smoke pouring from the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (PIK) and tanks outside the Nicosia Technical School



Makarios escaped from the badly damaged Presidential Palace along the dry bed of the Pediaios River which ran close by



The Archbishop's Palace (where Makarios had his private rooms) in central Nicosia was also attacked and badly damaged
This building was fiercely defended by his personal guard


Initial reports that Makarios was dead were untrue; a section of coupist tanks was delayed and the President escaped through a gap in the planned encirclement. He made his way to Kykkos Monastery in the Troodos mountains and, after hearing that Paphos was controlled by his supporters, made his way there. After being greeted by a crowd of several thousand outside the Bishopric he made a radio broadcast from Paphos telling his supporters island wide that, "It is I, Makarios, I am not dead."



The handwritten script that Makarios delivered from the 'Free Radio' station in Paphos

Learning that coupist forces were heading for Paphos, Makarios went to a local UN base and was then flown out to RAF Akrotiri in a British helicopter.
From there he went, via Malta, to London.



In the Paphos UN camp with a bodyguard and member of staff (Makarios's cloak can be seen at the right hand edge of the first image)

Back in Nicosia, the coup plotters had to settle for their fourth choice of new President (the others had refused the position or were absent from home). The man who finally accepted was Nikos Sampson whose background was well known, especially by the Turkish Cypriots.
During an interview with Nikos Sampson by the Sunday Times in July 1974 he reported that he was given a list of four names and when none of these were available he was asked to become President.



EOKA gunman Nikos Sampson arrested in 1957, in Omorfita 1963/64 and President Sampson in 1974